Friday, August 8, 2008

Food Friday: Not-Crab Crab Cakes

I grew up in RI and now live in DC, both areas are replete with a cornucopia of offerings from the sea. In RI it's quahogs and stuffies, here in DC it's the crab and the crab cakes.

My problem?

Severe allergies/anaphylactic reactions to nuts, shellfish, and mollusks.

Last summer, CoffeeShop Girl was kind enough to point me in the direction a recipe in the Washington Post that could fill the crab cake void within my DC existence and play to the abundance of zucchini this time of year. After experim
enting with the Post version, I tweaked it to where I'm more than pleased with the results. I can't say if they actually taste like crab cakes, but they certainly taste and have a similar texture to how I would imagine crab cakes to be.

Not-Crab Crab Cakes

  • 2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup plain panko
  • 1/2 cup plain whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1.5 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • 1.5 tablespoon 2% Fage Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 julienned fresh basil leaves
  • safflower oil, for frying
  • lemon wedges for garnish

Place grated zucchini in a colander; sprinkle lightly with salt. Let zucchini sit for about 30 minutes, allowing it to drain. Squeeze and pat with a towel to remove additional liquid - zucchini should be fairly dry. (THIS IS REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT. If the zucchini is still fairly watery, the result looks something like oily zucchini mush, which really isn't that appetizing. Trust me.)

Place zucchini, panko, and bread crumbs in a large bowl and mix together with hands. (One cup of either panko or bread crumbs could be used, I just really like the texture that results from mixing the two)

Place egg, Old Bay, Dijon, yogurt, lemon juice, parsley and basil in a large bowl, same size or larger than the bowl with the zucchini and bread crumbs. Mix well.

Add zucchini-bread crumb mixture to egg mixture, and gently incorporate and thoroughly. Form into 8 patties. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet, and cooking patties on both sides, browning well. Based on the size of my skillet, I've found that it's best if I bake two at a time. Moving them to a warmed oven once cooked.

This is not really a quick recipe and does involve some patience in the skillet cooking process. For the 8 cakes, from shredding the zucchini to finishing cooking the 8 cakes, it took me about 90 minutes. During the experimental phases, many a zucchini cake was burnt or fell apart. However, if any zucchini cakes fall apart in the cooking process, never fear, they are absolutely wonderful mixed in with some eggs, making a something along the lines of a scrambled egg-zucchini-frittata.

Now only to find a replacement for a stuffie*...

* A stuffie is defined by as:
Clam stuffing baked in a clam shell. Also known as a stuffed clam.
David Steinbrick, a producer at Cox Communications, sent us this tidbit: "Over the years, I have heard the best way to describe a 'stuffie' to an outsider. A stuffie is 'a clam meatloaf in an ashtray.' Succinct and to the point. Except the non-native may wonder why we cook food in ashtrays."

For those who have not studied Rhode-Islandeese, please see this valuable internet resource.


alfia said...

Thank you, Portside! I do not have shellfish allergies, but I have no idea what to cook from zucchinis. This sounds yummy! :)

alfia said...

Hi, Portside:

Did you practice at the wall not too far from me today? I can't tell, because I am practically blind without glasses. If it were you, your UD is awesome. Amazing backbend!

Anonymous said...

Hi Alfia,

If you try the zucchini cakes definitely let me know what you think.

And to answer your second comment, yes, that was me. Thanks :) See you in the morning...

The Mathematician said...

Portside . . .

Your recipe for "Crab" cakes is GREAT. The Artist and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Just one thing . .. cutting the fresh basil leaves julienne was a little difficult. Any suggestion?

The Mathematician

Anonymous said...

I picked up this great technique at some point - probably from one of those late nights watching FoodTv with Parson...

I will stack the basil leaves one on top of another and use kitchen scissors to cut the basil. Quick, thin, clean and precise.